For most of us, dying would be infinitely easier than living-- for life is hard! But there may be some reasons to delay your exit which haven't occurred to you...
It can sometimes seem like everyone out there wants a piece of you. And often not merely the one piece, but ALL of you-- and all of that fully committed to their own particular cause or agenda. To the expense of your own hopes and dreams.
And when I say fully committed, I mean to the death. All your money. All your time. All your life.
But when you get right down to it, there's not much good reason to be an Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh, Jim Jones cult member, or blue ribbon consumer of Madison Avenue brands. And practically infinite reasons to pursue different courses entirely!
There seems to be no end to the would-be Machiavellis, dictators, gang bosses, religious and cult evangelists, terrorist leaders, politicians, and charismatic business execs out there wanting you and me to give our all for them or their cause.
But why in hell should we? Why shouldn't we instead live for ourselves? Rather than dying at whatever velocity to appease someone else?
Who are those folks to tell us it's better to die for them than live for our own dreams and aspirations?
Just because someone gets cameras and microphones stuck in their face more often than others doesn't make them intrinsically better or wiser than we. Heck, those cameras and mikes have to be shoved somewhere, after all. And a great many personalities which get them topside would probably be more deserving of a colonoscopy with the things, instead.
And just because someone's richer than we are doesn't make them smarter or more deserving of good things either. It often just means they're luckier or meaner, in a universe where waste and evil are the ultimate winners.
So why not tell those folks to kiss off, and live for your own sake rather than theirs?
Of course in our current celebrity-worshipping society many of us may have forgotten or never learned in the first place many of the reasons for living on our own terms instead of those handed down to us by others. So below is a short list to jog your memory or consciousness. Beginning with certain lesser reasons and working up to the best.
#10: Random chance. Lots of supremely educated folks might take issue with me on this one, as in general randomness leads to disaster more often than not (check out the law of entropy sometime).
But those same folks would also have to admit that on occasion randomness can save your ass.
More than once a randomly located rock has saved me personally from possible automotive mayhem.
For instance, randomness definitely plays a role in the formation of dissipative structures like life and intelligence in the universe. Despite such entities essentially often representing direct opposition to random chance itself. For intelligent folk do their best to design out all randomness from their constructions such as bridges and rockets and medicines.
With the ever increasing control the rich and powerful are gaining over the rest of us through advances in technology, over time the tendency of random chance to affect events in unpredictable fashion may become one of the few chances the little guy will have left in this world. Heck: random chance IS the best shot 99% of us have at ever getting rich ourselves (see the overwhelming evidence here).
But let me be clear on this point: so long as humanity follows a progressive and ever improving path in general, random chance is more an enemy than ally. It is when society is devolving or collapsing that we might hold out the desperate hope that random chance might somehow slow down or reverse such trends.
Basically the only reason I presently list random chance as a potentially good thing is the current social devolution going on in the sole world superpower-- the United States (circa late 2007). So long as America continues with its substantial might to try to take the world backwards, random chance must remain a significant source of hope for turning the tide.
To see more about this subject refer to The astonishing decline of America OR How to go from respected sole world superpower to dangerous third world nation in just a couple generations.
"We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible."
-- The Optimism of Uncertainty By Howard Zinn; September 2, 2004
#9: Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. Wow. I bet you weren't expecting that one!
Basically a brilliant scientist named Kurt Gödel once proved that nobody can ever know everything. No matter if God-like powers are brought to bear by future humanity or the most advanced aliens you can imagine, even they will never learn it all.
So why's this a reason to live?
Because it means anyone deciding anything-- including to die-- cannot and never will have all the facts available to them. Perhaps not even all those specific facts relevant to their choice of the time. Ditto on deciding to live as well-- but you get the point.
Likewise our oppressors can never be all knowing. So if we stick around and continue to resist, sooner or later we may yet find a loophole by which to win.
Yeah, I agree this is a whopper in terms of long shots. But it's still a real shot at winning for the little guy-- even if it is a pip squeak of a thing. But that's what being the underdog is all about. Right?
Heck: at least twice in my life I found the same loophole which resulted in my own victory over bigger and stronger opposition. What was that loophole? I showed up to fight them when they didn't think I would. Their own absence from the scheduled meetings-- witnessed by others-- led to me emerging the victor from those events. Yes, that's right: one loophole at times consists merely of showing up when others don't think you'll dare.
Or, in other words, my opponents here were ignorant of my own resolve and courage. They didn't know I'd show up to accept their challenge. So I beat them by default!
#8: Revenge. There's a saying that living well is the ultimate revenge. Well, I'd add that out-living your enemies might not rank too far below that.
There's some grim satisfaction to be had as you see your enemies fall by the wayside, even as you yourself continue on. Especially where some of those enemies seriously threatened your own life or well being in some way in the past.
You can see one admittedly extreme account of such survival from my own life in What goes around....
#7: Curiosity The National Enquirer tabloid used to have the motto "Enquiring minds want to know!" Though I never found much else to recommend that publication to anyone, something about that slogan did resonate with me personally. For I've always been curious.
Not curious about the trivia of celebrity lives and scandals. But rather about the whys and hows behind us being here. About waking up a sentient being on a primitive world, and often finding myself in unnecessarily dire circumstances. Curious about if my own life and that of others could be improved, and if so, how? Give me details!
But even if I never found satisfactory answers to that type of quest, I'd still be curious about what happens next. What new scientific discoveries and inventions might be about to burst forth over the horizon. History-shaking events and ideas. Things like that.
Of course I have no hope of quenching this particular thirst. For much will ever remain beyond my reach. And eventually I'll die and never be able to learn anything else new again.
But while I yet live and have reasonable intellectual faculties I can still acquire a little nugget here and there along the way. A few pieces of the ultimate puzzle. And just maybe if I live long enough I'll come to understand enough about it all to die more content than I could today.
#6: The ultimate relief and satisfaction available to our own ending. I'm getting to be a fairly old guy now, and seen my share of the world and past history. I've also been luckier than lots of folks in getting the chance to pursue my own curiosity into a wider variety of subjects-- and deeper into such topics-- than just about anyone else I ever met or even heard of.
So today I don't suffer from nearly the level of uncertainty in some matters that many do. This state has both advantages and disadvantages relative to the condition of most others' lives. For instance, I'm virtually immune to most of the scams and con games typically used by bad guys at all levels to attack the public. The flip side of that though is that I must stand by and see others suffer the consequences of being so duped over and over again. Even loved ones. Not that I don't try to save them from the traps. It's just that not being a talking head on TV myself or sending them hard copy propaganda through the mail means I don't seem as credible to them as the con men.
And so my poor family and friends have to learn many things the hard way. Sometimes more than once. Agh!
And of course I just come off as being a terrible nag on all of them.
I'm also sure there's no afterlife. That that's just a fairy tale for folks to help make up for the vast uncertainties in life in general. And in modern times of course the tale has become a handy tool of control for the state in theocracies, as well as just about anyone who's a little smarter than their followers (and willing to exploit them).
I stopped debating the faithful on this point decades back. For it's no different than arguing with a three old about the existence of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Life's too short to waste on such trivia.
It's terribly sad to watch so many of my fellow human beings constantly arguing and fighting and wasting their lives and money trying to prove whose version of the fairy tale is true. Or at least the most damaging to humanity (for the faction damaged least is expected to be the victor). Agh! Think of all the death and suffering we could prevent by simply deleting such meaningless squabbling from our civilization!
The awful toll on children worldwide may be the worst part of all this.
Even with my considerable experience and personal research and experimentation though there remains much more I'd like to know and do while I can. The world's a big and complicated place, and it could easily require many normal lifetimes to come near to exhausting its potential for surprise and wonder. And profit of various sorts.
Yes, I'm sure at some point the ravages of age and repeated emotional turmoil will so weaken and exhaust me as to overwhelm my desire to gather still more knowledge and test yet another new idea. Or else bind me with physical or mental restrictions which severely curtail my capacities for such pursuits.
But I'm also sure the present window of opportunity is the only one I'll ever get to experience the universe as a thinking being, and be able to exert my own changes upon it, meager as they might be.
So I'm determined to do what I can while I'm here. Just as a contest winner who gets to keep all the cash he can scoop up inside a bank vault in sixty seconds would. For on the universe's time scale our own miniscule lifespan is practically non-existent. From the perspective of eternity it's POOF! We're born, live out our lives, and then die all in that single brief POOF! Like a piece of magician's flash paper to which a match has been struck.
I'll be damned if I won't metaphorically eat all I can while the kitchen's open!
One result of this is I should have minimal regrets when I'm done. For I'll know I did all I could while I was able, to live my life to the fullest.
I'm sure there's quite a few people out there who won't feel this way at their expiration. And so their own passing will likely be less pleasant.
(Of course, I could always be wrong about that afterlife thing. But so could those who believe it to exist, in exactly what it's like or all about (if it is real).
After all: nobody really knows.
In my youth I did extensive studies of today's major religions, as well as many of the mythologies which preceded them in prehistoric and historic times. And eventually wrote up in a story my own ideas for what a possible afterlife might be like.)
936 Little Blobs deals with the same essential idea of this section-- something which has haunted me personally for a long
time now. So little time, so much to do...it's too bad there's so little
fun and joy involved along the way, too!
a - j r m o o n e y h a m . c o m - o r i g i n a l
#5: Adventure Elsewhere on this page I discuss the passions of love. But there's other sorts of passion available too. Like the thrills of real-life adventure or mystery-solving or miscellaneous other recreations, which some among us may be fortunate enough to also earn a living at while so engaged.
So far as anyone knows today, adventures like these will be completely unavailable to you after you're dead. So you'd best have them now. And cherish what lifespan you have remaining as your primary resource for experiencing more such thrills. For so long as you can scrounge up the free time, adventure need never be too far away...
If you'd like to see a sampling of my own real world adventures of decades past, you can examine The Shadowfast supercar driver logs.
#4: Changing one itsy-bitsy piece of the world for the better Research indicates lots of us are happier when we feel like we have some control over our lives.
And many of us hope to someday make the world a better place, even if only in some small way, or in our local corner of same.
Fortunately some obstacles which prevented this for many in the past may now be melting away or being dismantled. Or at least the advent of the internet is spurring so much change across-the-board that new loopholes of opportunity are springing open for the time being.
So for now and the immediate future many of us may have our best shot ever at affecting the status quo if we try hard enough. And in my book that's one darn good reason to stick around for a while!
To learn more regarding this topic you can check out the following links:
Help for creating your own web site
Help with HTML editing and file uploading
How to make money with your web site
#3: Serendipity. Not all accidents are bad. Sometimes they can be wonderful. And make of life the most exquisite experience imaginable for a human being.
Yeah. No kidding! On rare occasion our life can actually seem to be the kind most of us would wish for if we were smart enough to know what we'd truly want, and found a genie in a bottle who could grant it to us on the spot.
Yeah, such nirvana is admittedly usually very short-lived. But the memories of same can be sweet enough to make up for an awful lot of the regular stuff we must put up with daily.
And even those serendipitous moments which come nowhere near to the best ones as described above can still be pretty pleasurable and worthwhile in their own right (the good ones, I mean! Bad serendipitous events are possible too, of course).
#2: Transcendence. Uh oh. Fair warning! Here I'm delving into the metaphysical. Or cosmological. Or inspirational(?)
Many folks equate transcendence with religious revelations. But not me.
The kind of transcendence I prefer relates to events which truthfully change one's life for the better. Stuff bringing about immediate and perceptible improvements in one's daily circumstances.
As a kid I once read a book that shaped my whole notion of transcendence. It may have been A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, but I'm not positive. I could have been anywhere from nine to twelve years old at the time.
In the book a kid discovers there's a strange way of thinking which all on its own will open up a dimensional portal to other realms on demand. At least that's the gist of my recollection.
Since then I've found there's quite a few possibilities for having real effects on the universe-- maybe big ones!-- through a simple change in perspective, or the learning of a new idea.
For instance, although there was much to criticize about the TV show MacGyver, its core idea that creativity with the resources at hand could get you out of an amazing array of jams is sound. My dad often succeeded at such things via his junkstorming, and me too in the decades since.
In my college experiments with hypnosis I found indications that a suitably trained and disciplined person might be able to exert a level of control over their physical body via their mind which would astonish many observers.
One hilarious example of this was provided by a cousin of mine who was following his own somewhat parallel course in hypnotic experimentation at the time.
While I was after a mental improvement to make it through a particularly difficult engineering course, my cousin was striving to improve his physical coordination for things like sports.
To make a long story short, one of our fellow students taunted my cousin one day into pitching a snowball from the parking lot up through roughly a one and one half inch diameter hole in the guy's third or fourth story dormitory window screen and into his open mouth just behind the screen.
My cousin carefully molded the snowball to fit the estimated size of the hole, then let fly. There was only the single throw.
The snowball zoomed smack through the center of the hole and down the guy's throat, choking him to a certain extent.
Luckily the snowball was likely close to the maximum size of object which could pass through his esophagus, and would rapidly shrink due to melting too. He survived. But he never ever challenged my cousin's throwing ability again.
To we college men the episode was hilarious.
Once I obtained a considerable promotion in rank and pay at a company by transcending a confrontation with the chief of the IT department of the time. And it was pretty much unwitting on my part. The department head actually set me up for a public ambush and then got caught in his own trap.
You see, he'd decided to publicly best me in a technical jargon contest/debate in order to put me in my place. Without realizing it I had become a threat to him by helping to solve everyone's computer problems company-wide as they arose. I guess a by product of that help was more and more folks suggesting I'd make a better IT head than he. So he tried to nip it in the bud by taking me out to the woodshed before maybe a third of the staff in a large open area of desks with no intervening walls.
The poor guy didn't stand a chance though. Because in college and since I'd spent way too much time reading BYTE magazines, devouring everything about computers that I could. For quite a number of years. So I humiliated him so badly that within days he'd resigned and left the company, practically leaving me his post by default.
My biggest edge may have been the surprise nature of the ambush. For not knowing what he had in mind left me relaxed and composed during the incident, while he felt under pressure. Being relaxed makes for much better and clearer thinking. And a better working memory as well.
A similar moment of transcendence occurred to me in high school. When I won one pivotal battle simply by showing up when my opponent didn't.
(Note that being alive seems to be THE biggest single prerequisite for showing up to a confrontation! Ha, ha)
#1: Love. Yeah, it sounds sappy, I know. But when you come down to the nitty gritty of it all, love is pretty much all that counts in the end. At least for reasonably sane and healthy folks.
Family, friends. Children. Spouses or significant others. However you want to describe it, love or lack of it may be the ultimate deal-breaker where life and death are concerned.
Remove all love from the equation and I'd be willing to bet that the human race would go entirely extinct almost immediately. We might or might not have enough time to go bonkers before we all died off.
So long as you're alive, even if you have no love at present, there's still a chance some might come your way. It helps that others out there are seeking it as well.
And yes, most all adults immersed in the media of the developed world crave something like the myth of the soul-mate. A romantic love teeming with tantalizing and invigorating sexual escapades and/or other shared adventures which never end, and never lose their excitement and intrigue. Passion and lots of it. For that stuff can be as pleasurable and addictive-- if not more so!-- as anything else life has to offer.
But whatever passionate relationships most of us form never even come close to meeting such high expectations. That's fine though. For that's not the only kind of love which can make life worth living.
Indeed, the vast majority of humanity out there eventually realizes the never-ending soul-mate sexual nirvana scenario is unrealistic-- and even impossible-- for all sorts of reasons. And so become willing-- even eager-- to settle for the consistent compassion and companionship to be found in a good marriage or friendship or other close relationship.
Passion burns and consumes, while compassion warms and sustains. So our best chances of finding lasting, real world love likely reside in the arena of compassion rather than passion. Family and friend type stuff, rather than Romeo and Juliet. Yeah, such a thing sure doesn't sound as exciting as soul-mates. But it's more real, accessible, and sustainable over the long haul for most of us. And can often be plenty satisfying itself.
For more on this topic please see The Crucible of the Soul: Real happiness, true love, soul mates, marriage, relationships, friendships, inspiration, stress, job burnout, depression, suicide, and more
For those wishing to take the wild, super-rare soul-mate ride instead, I offer Heartbreaker.
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